Wherever you go in Thailand, it’s clear that the country has a serious problem: street dogs.
From Bangkok to Phuket, Isaan to Rayong, Koh Chang to Ko Rok Nok; they’re everywhere.
Not only is this a huge problem for Thailand’s local communities – stray dogs can be aggressive, carry infectious diseases and destroy other wildlife – but it’s a huge animal welfare issue.
Many of these dogs are born on the streets, survive on the streets and ultimately die on the streets, without ever knowing the love of a human, the warmth of a blanket or the comfort of a regular, balanced diet.
It’s common for street dogs to suffer injuries from traffic accidents and fights with other dogs, as well as the fact that they’re incredibly vulnerable to health problems and diseases due to low nutrition and no vaccinations. A slow and painful death is the stark reality for many of Thailand’s street dogs.
A lack of sterilisation programmes and few controls on breeding exacerbate the overpopulation problem and perpetuate the undignified cycle of born-breed-die-repeat. Only by addressing the core of the issue will Thailand be able to reduce its street dog population.
Before that happens, there’s one woman doing everything in her power to save the street dogs around her and make their lives better.
Tamara and Thai Street Paws Rescue
Tamara Johnston is an Australian teacher who lives and works down in Songkhla, in Thailand’s South. The street dog problem is especially widespread there with no sterilisation programme or rescue foundations like there is in Bangkok, for instance.
Ten years ago, Tamara adopted her own street dog from Songkhla that she found wandering outside the local temple as a four-week old puppy. Bella is now 12-years old and has travelled with Tamara to Malaysia, Australia and now back to Thailand again. Adopting Bella spurred Tamara into the Thai street dogs’ cause, and she’s worked closely with them from that day forward – even coordinating operations remotely when she moved back in Australia.
Finding her heart pulled back towards Thailand, she moved back to the Kingdom a couple of years ago to devote herself to the Songkhla street dogs while still working teaching jobs out of her English centre.
From there, Tamara started up Thai Street Paws Rescue to provide a platform for fundraising, adoptions and to keep everyone updated with the dogs’ progress. She initially planned to start small and gradually grow the rescue mission but, of course, almost immediately found herself in at the deep end with a number of dogs to look after.
She currently cares for around 30 dogs every day in the street near her home, and also runs a small foster home where the dogs can recover from any health problems before they’re adopted.
Let’s meet a few of the dogs…
A true fighter with a ‘dogged’ spirit, Puppy Shay is definitely what you’d call a survivor.
After being hit by a car as a stray, Shay suffered 2 breaks in his femur and 6 breaks in his pelvis. He had emergency surgery to correct the femur breaks and is still enduring a painful recovery, but just before he was due to go to Tamara’s foster home to complete his recovery, the vet found the poor boy had come down with highly infectious Parvovirus.
Parvo is life-threatening and can be especially damaging to a dog’s intestinal tract, inflicting vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy on the dog. Unvaccinated, street dogs are especially susceptible to Parvo.
Thankfully, little Shay pulled through yet again and beat Parvo. Here he is finally enjoying his freedom at Tamara’s foster home.
Look who it is!!The one and only, PUPPY SHAY.Shay is now at the foster home enjoying his freedom. Recovered from parvo and now his femur and broken pelvis are continuing to heal.He has a slight limp. Shay will continue with calcium tablets and I will try to find someone to do acupuncture.A massive thank you to everyone that donated, shared his story and wished him well. He is a little fighter and pretty darn cute too!
Posted by Thai Street Paws Rescue on Saturday, 13 February 2016
Gorgeous Charlie is suffering from canine distemper – a destructive virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous system and can prove fatal in dogs with weakened immune systems – and injuries to his back legs.
Tamara has been feeding Charlie chicken laced with high doses of vitamin C and is working to gain his trust so she can pick him up and take him to the vets. His distemper twitching has subsided and he seems to have more energy since he’s been taking Vitamin C; everyone has their fingers crossed for Charlie.
Distemper is a huge problem among the street dog population of Songkhla – Tamara has been caring for another 4 puppies suffering with the disease, one of whom has sadly died. The other 3 survived and are now healthy and happy; Tamara has recently had them sterilised and is hoping to find them ‘forever homes’ shortly.
Not all of the dogs Tamara cares for get to have their happy endings sadly.
One such dog was Angel – a beautiful, old girl who had only known a life on the streets. Tamara found her earlier this month, desperate for food, with a broken front leg and crawling with ticks. A vet visit found she had severe blood parasites, 2 leg breaks, hip luxation and bone cancer.
Her condition worsened quickly; she was soon unable to stand without support and had a number of seizures, suggesting the cancer may have spread to her brain. The vet refused to put her to sleep, as it was against their spiritual beliefs, but another vet agreed upon seeing a video of Angel’s suffering.
Tamara made the hard decision to end Angel’s suffering, showing her the love she’d never had before, arranging for a comfy bed in her final days and giving her a much needed haircut. RIP Angel.
How you can help
Although the costs of caring for the street dogs in Thailand is cheaper than it would be in Western economies, the vet bills and food costs ramp up quickly for so many dogs, so Tamara is always grateful for donations – big or small, regular or one-offs.
The exact costs vary month to month as it’s difficult to predict vet visits and kennel expenses. Here are a few of the costs your donations would go towards:
- Food – Around ฿300 everyday to feed all the dogs
- Foster home rent and live-in carer – ฿18,000 per month
- Sterilisations – ฿1,200 to ฿1,500 for females, and ฿900 to ฿1,200 for males
- Chemotherapy – ฿1,200 per treatment
- Vaccinations – from ฿200 to ฿290 each
- Tick treatment – ฿280 to ฿340
- Vitamin C tablets (to treat distemper) – 180 tablets last 2 days and cost ฿899
Of course, these costs don’t include the emergency surgeries and treatments that are sometimes needed. For instance, Puppy Shay’s Parvo treatments cost a whopping ฿22,789 and his femur surgery ฿10,316.
If you’d like to donate, please visit the Thai Street Paws Rescue YouCaring page here which Tamara also regularly updates with news of the dogs.
She also has a PayPal account which you are more than welcome to send funds to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers willing to help on the streets or in the foster home are always welcome at Thai Street Paws. Tasks include prepping food, bathing the dogs, walking them and playing with them.
Online fundraising is another great way to help out, and people willing to be flight volunteers are especially valuable. Tamara often rehomes dogs to the US and having a flight volunteer – whereby the dog flies attached to your plane ticket – halves the cost of sending a dog in cargo. This won’t cost you anything and Tamara will handle the paperwork and check the dog in at the airport.
Follow the dogs’ progress
If you’re interested in Tamara’s work with the street dogs of Songkhla, you can follow Thai Street Paws Rescue on Facebook and Twitter, both of which she updates regularly.
Donations can be made and updates followed on her YouCaring page too.
The dogs say, “THANK YOU!”
Welcome and thank you to all the new people on our page. Here is a short video from my feeding rounds today. I love the greeting I get every single day from these adorable ones.The 3 puppies beat distemper. It took 2 months and a lot of hard work, but it sure was worth it.All the dogs in the video are looking for forever homes. Let me know if you are interested in finding out about any of them.
Posted by Thai Street Paws Rescue on Tuesday, 26 January 2016
All photos are taken from the Thai Street Paws Rescue Facebook page